I remember that Tuesday morning in 2001 as if it happened seconds ago. In my case, I was scurrying around my apartment getting ready for work, The Today Show playing in the background. It was almost time for the local traffic and weather update. Today had broken for commercial, something about hygiene products or the best lending deals around — I don’t know. I never really paid attention to those commercials. But what did catch my eye was when the commercial was interrupted midway, and a voice-over said a plane, size unknown, had crashed into the World Trade Center.
My first reaction was that they’d gotten their tapes mixed, and that this was a glitch advertising some upcoming disaster movie. In the scant moments that followed, I realized how horribly wrong I was.
I didn’t go to work that day.
I think a lot of us didn’t.
When everything we had ever thought had been turned inside-out in a matter of minutes, nothing seemed to matter that much. We were numb in disbelief. I was in Dallas, you were wherever you live. But it didn’t matter. We were all as one, a singular voice screaming “Why?!” Imagine what it was like in New York City.
As the events of September 11, 2001 unfolded in New York City, some witnesses were frozen with shock, some helped others, and many ran as fast as they could from the growing disaster. Then there were those who grabbed their video cameras. Despite the chaos and danger, many people kept their cameras rolling throughout the catastrophe. The special 102 Minutes That Changed America premieres Thursday, September 11, 2008 at 9 p.m. ET/ PT on The History Channel without commercial interruption. With footage from more than 100 individual sources, carefully pieced together in chronological order, the special is a permanent historical archive for future generations to see.
102 Minutes That Changed America presents amateur and professional footage, woven together without narration or commentary, to provide the viewer with an immersive and emotional experience. This documentary faithfully records and captures that historical morning as it happened and the way it was experienced from people’s initial bewilderment that a plane could slam into these iconic skyscrapers on such a clear, sunny day to the sudden, awful recognition that America was under attack.
Over the 24 months it took to research 102 Minutes That Changed America, the production team screened more than 500 hours worth of professional and amateur videotape, as well as more than 30 hours of audio recordings from New York City Fire Department and New York City Police Department radio transmissions and 911 calls. Among the videographers are two New York University seniors filming from a high-rise dormitory just blocks from the World Trade Center. Immediately after the first plane’s impact, these young women pick up their camera and begin recording the smoking North Tower. Their confusion turns into panic when they observe objects plummeting from the tower windows. Then, in their viewfinder, the second plane impacts the South Tower. Terrified, the girls must decide whether to stay on the 32nd floor or flee with their friends to the ground floor.